Why Does easyJet Have Swiss And Austrian Subsidiaries?

Since its formation in March 1995, British low-cost carrier easyJet has played an important role in democratizing European air travel. It is one of the continent’s three main budget airline groups, alongside Ryanair (Ireland) and Wizz Air (Hungary). However, in addition to its UK-based operations, it also has Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries. But why exactly?

easyJet Switzerland Getty
easyJet has a strong presence at airports like Geneva thanks to its subsidiaries. Photo: Getty Images

easyJet Switzerland

easyJet Switzerland actually dates back further than the main easyJet group itself. Indeed, it came into being as TEA Switzerland in May 1988, and commenced operations the following March. For the first decade of its existence, the carrier was a subsidiary of Belgian carrier Trans European Airways (hence the ‘TEA’ prefix).

Three years after commencing operations from its base at Luton Airport, easyJet bought a 40% stake in TEA Switzerland in March 1998. Services under the easyJet franchise began the following April. This allowed it to form bases outside of the UK, specifically in Geneva (GVA) and Basel/Mulhouse (BSL), which has helped easyJet to grow in continental Europe. By 2013, easyJet had increased its stake to 49%, with private investors owning the other 51%.

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TEA Switzerland Boeing 737-300
easyJet Switzerland’s former fleet consisted of the Boeing 737-300s that had served its predecessor, TEA Switzerland, since 1989. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

easyJet Europe

Meanwhile, easyJet’s Austrian subsidiary, known as easyJet Europe, is a carrier that the company newly established, rather than acquired, in 2017. This came about as a result of the UK voting to leave the EU in June 2016. At the time, there was uncertainty as to what Brexit would mean with regards to easyJet’s rights to operate flights within European countries.

As such, the company decided to establish a new airline, based and registered in continental Europe, in order to protect itself from potential restrictions. By obtaining an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) in another EU member state, it would be able to continue its services on the continent as before. It ultimately opted to base easyJet Europe in Austria.

Having been established on July 18th, 2017, the new airline’s first flight took off just two days later. This saw a re-registered Airbus A320 (OEIVA, formerly G-EZPA) fly from easyJet’s base in Luton to the new airline’s headquarters in Vienna. More than 100 planes have since been re-registered in Austria, and the carrier now has its own flight numbers and callsign.

easyJet Europe Airbus A320
OE-IVA operated easyJet Europe’s first flight back in July 2017. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr

The fleets

Having previously operated Boeing 737s, easyJet‘s fleet (across all of its airlines) now consists entirely of Airbus A320 and A320neo family members. According to Planespotters.net, easyJet Switzerland currently has 27 aircraft, of which 22 are active. These are:

  • A319-100 – 5 examples (+28 historic aircraft) of which all are currently active. They have an average age of 9.9 years old.
  • A320-200 – 22 examples (+3 historic aircraft) of which 20 are currently active. They have an average age of 7.2 years old.

Meanwhile, the composition of the larger easyJet Europe fleet is as follows:

  • A319-100 – 32 examples (+13 historic aircraft) of which 15 are currently active. They have an average age of 12.5 years old.
  • A320-200 – 83 examples (+9 historic aircraft) of which 65 are currently active. They have an average age of 6.6 years old.
  • A321neo – 4 examples, of which 3 are currently active. They have an average age of 1.3 years old.

Did you know about easyJet’s Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries? Have you ever flown with either (or both) of them? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.